St Imulus: Confessions of a Bible Editor
It was because I’d given myself in that sacrificial giving sort of way that I actually was awarded my Sainthood. At the time I was the best-known ‘extra-mile’ goer, with decades of unpaid overtime on my record. Doing what?
In the days of yore (mine, actually), I was one of those who got to choose the stuff that was to get included in the New Testament. It felt like I was continuing in the family business – one of my ancestors, a bloke by the name of Levi Imulus, was part of the team pulling together the Old Testament (not called ‘Old’ at the time – they weren’t anticipating a sequel). According to his diaries, he was given particular responsibility for editing Song of Solomon. Apparently, so his diaries tell us, there was vigorous debate regarding the inclusion – or otherwise – of the said piece. Levi punched above his weight and drew on the awe and respect bestowed on him by being a distant descendant of Levi Ticus, also known for writing Bible bits. Anyhow, in terms of Song of Solomon, not a bad job did old Levi, if I say so myself.
In my editing and compiling role, there were screeds of paper – well, scrolls of papyri – to draw on. Some of them were clearly Old Testament leftover bits which had been found hither and yon, and we weren’t allowed to use them or try to adapt and sneak them into the New. I did, however, learn some new theories about Enoch walking with God “and he was not.” Some fascinating possibilities about what actually he was specifically notting arose, none, however, related to the British versions of Notting (Ham and Hill). But leaving that aside, the topic of this scroll is New Testament editing.
John’s Gospel presented some issues for us, an example being the oft-quoted line about “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” By the time we’d finished editing John, we’d all figured that John was referring to himself kind of humbly, and we quite liked his attitude. (John’s constant use throughout the Gospel of the word “whom” was actually quite a giveaway – in life he’d apparently always been whom-ing here, whom-ing there.)
Back to Saint John and his Gospel. As you may know, he was the only Gospel writer to tell the story of Lazarus. If in fact, it was Saint John who wrote it. Because, interestingly, from my now eternal and slightly elevated vantage point here in the heavens, I’ve observed scholarly types reviewing my work millennia down the track. Some of them even reckon that it was Lazarus himself who wrote the fourth Gospel. He wanted the story of his own dead-then-undead statuses, so they say, to be recorded for posterity once he realised that Matthew, Mark, and the other guy had just nothing to say on it. Whatever. Me and my mates are sticking with John. Thank God for John’s record of the incident, and Jesus for his intervention in Lazarus’ life (and even more specifically his death) – otherwise Larnaka (Cyprus) and Marseille (France) may have come up short on their possible early bishop.
I followed up various sources on exactly what happened to Lazarus after his several days sojourn six foot into the cave, so to speak. First, the funeral directors of the time offered no refund of their charges – understandably there was no provision for such event in their contract. They were prepared to show some goodwill by offering a fifty percent discount on any subsequent funeral arrangements they may be required to perform for Lazarus. The doctor who had signed the death-scroll did the rounds of the various chat shows in local stadiums (stadia) and forums, while Jacob and Seth Ripleus contemplated launching a scrollapedia called “Believe it or Not.” The life insurers of the day hastily amended their whole-of-life policies, with the fine print making very clear that policies could be redeemed just once per person: Lazarus and any others of his ilk would not be permitted double-dipping.
After all the excitement had died away (as it were), the resurrected Lazarus energetically and passionately launched into his new life’s activities almost as if he didn’t have a care in the world. If bungee jumping had been invented, he may well have tested it without a cord, who knows. We found a number of references to Lazarus’ later existence, with various considering he became Bishop of Larnaka, others considering he had pursued the French connection and became Bishop of Marseille. Research of the published obituaries of the time in both France and Cyprus show a complete silence on the fact, or otherwise, of his eventual death (take two). While rumours of his death certainly abounded, these various aboundings were very thin compared with those of Lazarus’ contemporaries. It appears likely that few turned up for his funeral, most of his mates being resigned to the thought of ‘here we go again, how often is he going to pull this one?’
Lazarus, known for his musical ability, wrote his best-selling song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Death” in AD 39. The song was resurrected in the twentieth century, modified and updated by an Eric Idle, better known for his work as a snake charmer.
Finally, the foregoing is all extracted from the annals of history. Saint Lazarus of course resides – for the second time – here in heaven. Must pop over for a beer with Laz and get the real lowdown.